Greatly assisted by daily monsoonal rains, firefighters on Thursday will be shoring up and extending fire lines on more than a dozen active wildfires that have been burning across Colorado the past two months.
On Thursday the number of active wildfires in Colorado dropped to 14 and containment has increased on virtually every fire, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
“Rain always helps our cause. Things are going well,” said Jesse Borden, spokeswoman for the Spring Creek fire, the largest active wildfire in Colorado.
Another round of rain could help firefighters, but could also hurt, Borden said. Too much rain could hinder the mobility of heavy equipment in mud and trigger flooding in burn areas.
“We want to see a little bit of rain, but we don’t want to get dumped on,” Borden said.
Here’s an overview of the largest active wildfires in the state:
SPRING CREEK FIRE
Containment of Colorado’s largest wildfire has grown to 83 percent. Higher humidity levels and rain showers have allowed for a steady increase in containment.
The fire is more dormant after the rains and is creeping slowly in a northwest direction.
The human-caused wildfire, which is five miles northeast of Fort Garland, is just under 108,000 acres in size. It is the third largest wildfire in Colorado history. It destroyed at least 132 homes and damaged another 119 homes.
The number of people fighting the fire dropped to less than 1,500 people, about 200 fewer than the number previously tasked to the fire.
Fire officials estimate they’ll fully contain the fire by July 31.
One big sign of increasing confidence were the return trips of two trains owned by the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad from Silverton to Durango Wednesday afternoon.
Federal forest service officers continue to investigate the cause of the fire, which has not yet been announced. Some Durango residents believe one of the 1880s-vintage coal-fired trains ignited the 416 fire 13 miles north of Durango. The trains had been idled in Silverton since June 1, when the wildfire ignited.
The wildfire, which has consumed more than 54,000 acres, is 100 percent contained in areas targeted for suppression. However, it remains active on parts of the western flank within the San Juan National Forest.
WESTON PASS FIRE
Monsoon rain storms have helped firefighters keep the wildfire mostly in place except for a few locations in the southwest corner of the fire where it is creeping and smoldering.
The wildfire, which has remained around 13,000 acres since the weekend, is now 74 percent contained. Fire crews have increased fire lines every day.
The human-caused wildfire was started on June 28 about nine miles southwest of Fairplay.
Fire officials predict it will be completely extinguished on July 29.
LAKE CHRISTINE FIRE
Except in isolated parts of the wildfire where there were flare ups and some fire growth, the wildfire has mostly not moved this week.
Everyone who had been evacuated by the wildfire has now been allowed back into their homes.
The 6,345-acre wildfire, ignited by flares on a shooting range northwest of Basalt, is now at 70 percent containment for areas where fire crews are working to fully suppress the wildfire.
Fire commanders are concerned about high winds driven by Thursday evening thunderstorms that could cause isolated torching of pine trees and spread the fire.
Wildfires in the U.S.
The map shows active fire locations and all 2018 fire perimeters (not all fires have perimeter data, zoom in to see perimeters of smaller fires). To see all 2018 fire locations or to change the map background, click the map layers icon in the upper right corner of the map and click/unclick the boxes. Pinch or use buttons to zoom, or drag the map to see other areas; click a marker for details. Go to the full map and table.